Friday, August 21, 2020
"Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God's behalf… Surely God is mighty and does not despise any…" - Job 36
I’ve said it often and I’ll say it for the rest of my life, phrases like “It’s God’s will” are often said to try and make simple sense of the senseless, often in times of tragedy, and such phrases are profoundly unhelpful. We often default to saying things that perhaps don’t help when we feel like we need to but don’t know what to say.
Sometimes, we should just stay quiet with people and simply be present with them in their own space.
Such is the case with Job’s friends. Poor Job has lost absolutely everything, and his friends show up to try and help and, go figure, they end up making things worse as they try and explain why all of this bad stuff has happened to him. Anyone ever had some of Job’s friends show up like that? Oh yeah, I sure have.
Then there’s Elihu. He shows up on the scene because he’s been listening to Job’s friends and really doesn’t like what he’s hearing them say. While all of Job’s friends have been explaining to why he deserved all of the bad things that had happened to him, Elihu instead said that God is always loving and merciful, yet sometimes bad things even happen to good people. He doesn’t offer a “why” to it, simply a truth about life. A painful and difficult one, to be sure, but still a truth; no hollow or trite explanations needed.
Sometimes I think we need more Elihus and fewer of Job’s friends. We need more people who will simply sit with us in our spaces and say, “Yeah, this stinks. You’re still a good person and God still loves you, but this really stinks.” No further explanation needed.
Creator God, send us our Elihus when we need them, and allow us to be that presence when others don’t need explanations but rather an empathetic spirit.